Many times we as humans decide to suppress our feelings and emotions as a way of coping with the trauma we do not want to face. However, by suppressing our emotions, we are harming ourselves and allowing the “forgotten” memories to continuously eat away at our subconscious. Understanding how to handle our emotions and feelings is important to our well-being and future. We cannot run away from our human abilities to feel, so learning how to handle them is the best way to allow them to not control you as a person. It can be easy to lash out in anger and say or do things you normally wouldn’t, but at that moment you are hurting others and later hurting yourself. Learn how to harness it into better and positive energy. One who masters emotions can master actions.
The ability to experience and express emotions is more important than you might realize. While emotions can have a helpful role in your daily life, they can take a toll on your emotional health and interpersonal relationships when they start to feel out of control. Have you ever said something out of anger or let fear talk you out of taking a risk that could benefit you? You are not alone, but your mood when it comes to your emotions can dictate how you interact with others. It can have an effect on your spending habits, time management, and how you adapt to challenges. Just like any other skill, managing your emotions requires practice and dedication.
Here are 10 ways to handle your emotions.
Experience Uncomfortability, but Do Not Get Stuck
Managing emotions is not the same as suppressing them. Choosing to ignore pain and sadness does not make the emotions go away- in fact, they are more likely to get worse over time when left unaddressed. When you suppress your emotions instead of learning how to manage them, you are more likely to turn to unhealthy coping skills like food or alcohol abuse. Many who fall into this category often feel stuck. It is the only method they have known for years and feel it is just who they are at this point, but the truth is managing your emotions and moving past allowing them to hurt you is a skill you can obtain by working at it.
Acknowledge your feelings while also recognizing your emotions do not have to control you. If you are angry, you can choose to calm yourself down. Wake up in a bad mood? You can control how you go about your day and turn it around.
Label Your Emotions
Before you can take control and change the way you feel, you must be able to acknowledge what you are experiencing. Are you nervous, angry, disappointed, scared, sad? Keep in mind some emotions- like anger- can mask other emotions that can make you feel vulnerable, such as, shame or embarrassment. It is important for you to pay attention to your true internal battles in order, to be honest with yourself, and keep in mind you can also feel multiple emotions at once. By labelling how you feel, it can help take the stink out and allow you to take notes on how those feelings affect your decisions.
- What am I feeling right now?
- What happened to make me feel this way?
- What do I want to do about these feelings?
- Is there a better way to cope?
- Is there a more realistic way to look at this situation?
Reframe Your Thoughts
Your emotions can control your perception. If you are anxious or upset and you receive an email from your boss saying they want to see you right away, your thoughts may go straight to you are in trouble or going to get fired. However, if you are happy, you may assume a promotion or award is going to be granted for a job well done. Take a step back in every moment, figure out your feelings, and create a realistic viewpoint on the situation instead of allowing your feelings to dictate your reality.
If you are dreading doing something and feel it is a waste of time, remind yourself it is up to you to get something out of it because you are the only one who can make the most out of your experiences. Many times we find ourselves backing out of taking risks because we feel anxious and scared, when in reality, that experience maybe what we need to do in order to get ahead in life or in our career. We cannot let our emotions control our thoughts and our thoughts to control our actions. Take back your thoughts, you can take back your life.
It can be hard for us to take our own advice or know what to do in the situations, so try to take a step back and pretend you are giving a friend with the same problem advice. What would you tell them? After you are able to work it out, have the discipline to pursue it yourself. If you find yourself just focusing on the negatives, you may need to start rewiring your brain to process those thoughts first before trying to tackle handling your emotions.
Boost Your Mood
When you are in a bad mood, it is easier for you to engage in activities that will keep you in a negative mindset – isolation, scrolling through your phone mindlessly, or complaining to those around you. These actions and those like them will keep you in a stuck mindset. Try thinking of the things you do when you are happy and pursue them. They can help turn your frown upside down.
- Call a friend or talk to someone pleasant– do not complain
- Go for a walk
- Listen to uplifting music
Find a way to help yourself relax and become comfortable when you are experiencing heavy emotions. By boosting your mood and partaking in these examples, you will also be able to improve your mental health which will impact your overall performance.
Accept Your Emotions
When you are trying to manage your emotions, do not downplay their impact. In serious emotional situations where you find yourself hyperventilating, sobbing, or overwhelmed it may seem helpful to tell yourself to “just calm down” or “it is not a big deal”, but in reality, it is a big deal to you. Do not invalidate your feelings. Your feelings, at the moment, are a big deal for you, and they are valid. Accepting emotions as they come helps you become comfortable with them and help them not hit so hard the next time they come around. Comfort around intense emotions allows you to freely feel without reacting in extreme and harmful ways.
There is a lot of power in a deep breath, no matter your mood. Taking a moment to pay attention to your breathing and slowing down your mind will not make the emotions go away (it’s not the goal), but it can help ground you. When you feel like you are losing control, take a step back from the emotion and refrain from any extreme reaction you want to avoid. Next time you feel your emotions are taking control, breath slowly through the diaphragm, hold it for a three-count before letting it out, and consider a mantra- like “I am calm” or “I am relaxed”.
Know how to Express Yourself
There is always a time and place for everything, even your emotions. If you must scream, sob uncontrollably, or even punch a pillow, then by all means do so, but only where and when it is appropriate. These are normal responses to intense emotions, but it is not recommended to scream in the middle of the office. Instead, certain situations call for some restraint, and being able to control your emotions in a healthy manner no matter how frustrated you are is a much-needed skill. You would not want to scream at your boss over an unfair disciplinary action. Being mindful of your surroundings can help you learn when it is ok to let your feelings out and when you need to hold them in.
Give Yourself Space
Self-care is crucial in any part of your life because it helps with physical and emotional stress. Any self-care activity you find effective that can calm and relax you, will be beneficial in an intensely emotional situation. When you are in strong emotional distress, it is important to understand the mind and body are connected. A professor of psychology at Marquette University, John Grych Ph.D., says, “Emotions have a physical basis. When we engage our bodies, we can help work through and express our emotions in a constructive and healthy way.” When giving yourself space, it is important to be smart about utilizing distractions. They can be helpful to take your moment away from the situation, but you do not want to find yourself suppressing your emotions.
Stress in everyday life can interfere with one’s ability to comprehend strategies they can use to control their emotions. Anxiety is a big emotion that tends to control people’s ability to make a change and do a task they fear will not turn out. Learning how to manage stress levels and bring them down can help one hoan into their emotions and control them as well because they are all connected. When stress levels are elevated, it can make us irritable, angry, anxious, and sad. Without eliminating the cause of the emotions, you will not be able to control the emotions themselves.
Shift Your Response
If you cannot avoid, modify, shift your thoughts, and all else fails and your emotions come pouring out, the final step of emotion regulation is to control your response. When you are anxious or angry, you tend to feel warm and your heart rate elevates. Try taking a deep breath and thinking before you react to the situation in order to help your body balance itself. Perhaps try closing your eyes while you take a second. This response also helps when you cannot stop laughing when in a serious situation because it helps you gather your inner thoughts and force yourself to change at least your facial expressions if not your mood.
When trying these 10 ways to handle your emotions it is important to understand the process is going to take a while and will not happen overnight. It is going to take tons of practice and dedication in order to rewire the way your brain processes the situation at hand. It seems like a lot of work, but truthfully, the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. If we condition ourselves to respond to strong emotions head-on it will stick and become our normal. It will not take away the negative emotions, but it will make them easier to deal with.
Controlling and learning to deal with our emotions is crucial for survival, as we cannot run from our basic human instincts. As much as we do not like pain most of the time, we are unable to completely turn off our feelings. Therefore, developing a deeper sense of emotional regulation can have an improvement in our long-term mental health.